Black Monday Tracker: Follow NFL head coaching changes

1 Comment

It’s Black Monday in the NFL, meaning several coaches, general managers — and teams — are waiting to see what their futures hold.

Some coaches didn’t even make it to Monday before being fired, and, of course, Black Monday came a week early for Chip Kelly, who was fired by the Eagles on the verge of finishing his third season. Below is all the latest on head coaches and general managers around the NFL:

9:40 p.m. ET: In a stunning turn of events, the Colts announced a surprise contract extension with Chuck Pagano after it was widely believed for months that Pagano would be relieved of his duties at the end of the season even if the Colts made the playoffs. After Indianapolis fell short of the postseason, Pagano’s exit seemed to be a mere formality, but now he’ll get a chance to reverse his and the franchise’s fortune with a healthy Andrew Luck in 2016.

FIRED: Chargers offensive coordinator Reich

3:53 p.m. ET: The Chargers have fired offensive coordinator Frank Reich, according to reports. Head coach Mike McCoy is safe regardless of whether the team plays in San Diego or Los Angles next year, a source tells ProFootballTalk.

Coughlin steps down as Giants coach

2:20 p.m. ET: Tom Coughlin has stepped down as head coach of the New York Giants. He won two Super Bowls in 12 seasons as Giants head coach.

In a statement, Coughlin said, “I strongly believe the time is right for me and my family, and as I said, the Giants organization.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as head coach of the New York Football Giants. This is not a sad occasion for me. I have spent 15 years with this organization as an assistant and head coach and was fortunate to be part of three Super Bowl winning teams.”

Coughlin reportedly may not retire and is open to “the right opportunity.”

1:40 p.m. ET: After firing Jim Tomsula on Sunday, 49ers CEO Jed York said Monday that Trent Baalke will stay as the team’s GM and will hire the Niners’ next coach. One scenario to keep an eye on: The Niners going after Saints coach Sean Payton.

1:08 p.m. ET: Where the Chargers play next year remains to be seen, but Mike McCoy is being kept on as head coach despite a 4-12 season.

1:00 p.m. ET: The Dolphins beat the Patriots on Sunday, but the folks in Miami still reportedly want to speak with New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

FIRED: Titans toss GM Webster

12:22 p.m. ET: The writing was on the wall for Ruston Webster after head coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired during the season. The Titans fired Webster on Monday. Steve Underwood has been permanently promoted to President and CEO of the team.

HIRED: Dolphins tab Grier as new GM

11:47 a.m. ET: That didn’t take long. Chris Grier is the new general manager of the Miami Dolphins, the team announced Monday. The Dolphins fired Dennis Hickey as GM only two days ago.

 

10:36 a.m. ET: All signs are pointing to Tom Coughlin resigning as head coach of the New York Giants after missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. Coughlin will reportedly meet with ownership at 1 p.m. ET.

10:11 a.m. ET: What will happen to Jeff Fisher in St. Louis after the Rams went 7-9? His job could be safe due to the team’s geographic uncertainty. A move to Los Angeles looks more than possible for the Rams.

8:39 a.m. ET: Mike Shanahan will interview with the Dolphins for their head-coaching vacancy on Tuesday, Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reports.

7:14 a.m. ET: Chip Kelly has reached out to the 49ers to tell them that he’d like to coach them, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. Kelly was fired last week by the Eagles after missing the playoffs for the second straight season.

6:29 a.m. ET: Jason Garrett isn’t leaving Dallas, according to Jerry Jones: “There’s no thought of replacing Jason. At all.”

SUNDAY EARLY-BIRD ACTION

FIRED: 49ers part with Tomsula

10:06 p.m. ET: Jim Tomsula‘s tenure in San Francisco has officially ended after only one season. Tomsula exits after a tumultuous 5-11 season. He was with the organization for nine years.

8:53 p.m. ET: The Eagles will reportedly pursue coach Sean Payton if he does not stay on as Saints coach. Payton reportedly has a Monday meeting with Saints GM Mickey Loomis.

FIRED: Pettine, Farmer out at Cleveland

7:09 p.m. ET: The Browns have fired head coach Mike Pettine and GM Ray Farmer. Pettine was 10-22 in two years as head coach in Cleveland. Doug Marrone will reportedly be the first person interviewed for the head-coaching vacancy, but Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam denies that. Haslam quickly promoted the Browns’ general counsel, Sashi Brown, to executive director of football operations and gave Brown control of the 53-man roster.

Eagles fly to first Super Bowl win with memorable victory vs Patriots

Leave a comment

As their delirious fans sang their theme song and their owner lifted the Lombardi Trophy, the Philadelphia Eagles’ finally could breathe freely.

Yo, Philly, you really did beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in a thrilling Super Bowl that rewrote the offensive record book.

Nick Foles guided the drive of a lifetime, Zach Ertz made a bobbling touchdown catch that had to survive replay review, and an exhausted defense came up with not one but two stands in the final moments Sunday for a 41-33 victory. For the first time since 1960, the Eagles are NFL champions.

“Fly Eagles Fly,” indeed.

“We’ve played this game since we were little kids, we dreamed about this moment,” game MVP Foles said. “There’s plenty of kids watching this game right now dreaming about this moment and someday will be here.”

In a record-setting shootout between backup QB Foles and five-time champ Brady of the favored Patriots, Foles led a pressure-packed 75-yard drive to the winning touchdown, 11 yards to Ertz with 2:21 to go .

Then Brandon Graham strip-sacked Brady and Derek Barnett recovered, setting up rookie Jake Elliot’s 46-yard field goal for an 8-point lead.

Brady got his team to midfield, but his desperation pass fell to the ground in the end zone.

“For us, it was all about one stop we had to make. We went out here and made that one stop,” Graham said.

The underdog Eagles (16-3), even injured starting quarterback Carson Wentz, came bolting off the sideline in ecstasy while Brady sat on the ground, disconsolate.

It was the first Super Bowl title for Philadelphia (16-3), which went from 7-9 last season.

“If there’s a word (it’s) called everything,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said. “That’s what it means to Eagles fans everywhere. And for Eagles fans everywhere, this is for them.”

Super Bowl MVP Foles orchestrated the victory with the kind of drive NFL MVP Brady, a five-time champion, is known for. The drive covered 14 plays, including a fourth-down conversion.

“I felt calm. I mean, we have such a great group of guys, such a great coaching staff,” Foles said. “We felt confident coming in, and we just went out there and played football.”

The Eagles had to survive a video replay because ball pop into the air as Ertz crossed the goal line.

The touchdown stood — and so did thousands of green-clad Eagles fans who weren’t going to mind the frigid conditions outside US Bank Stadium once they headed out to celebrate. But not before a rousing rendition of “Fly Eagles Fly” reverberated throughout the stands once the trophy was presented to Lurie. Later, fans danced along with the “Gonna Fly Now,” the theme from “Rocky,” the city’s best-known fictional underdog.

The Patriots (15-4) seemed ready to take their sixth championship with Brady and coach Bill Belichick in eight Super Bowls. Brady threw for a game-record 505 yards and three TDs, hitting Rob Gronkowski for 4 yards before Stephen Gostkowski’s extra point gave New England its first lead, 33-32.

Then Foles made them forget Wentz — and least for now — with the gutsiest drive of his life.

“We couldn’t make a play to give the ball back to the offense,” Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore said.

Foles has been something of a journeyman in his six pro seasons, but he has been spectacular in four career playoff games. He finished 28 of 43 for 373 yards and three TDs.

The combined 1,151 yards were the most in any modern NFL game, and Brady’s 505 were the most in any playoff contest. The 40-year-old master finished 28 of 48 and picked apart the Eagles until the final two series.

It was such a wild game that Foles caught a touchdown pass , and Brady was on the opposite end of a Danny Amendola throw that went off his fingertips.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson brought home the championship in his second year in charge. Belichick is 5-3 in Super Bowls and his teams have only a plus-4 overall margin in those games.

So this one was in keeping with that trend: breathtaking and even a bit bizarre.

Brady and the Patriots looked ready for another comeback by opening the second half with a 75-yard touchdown drive. Gronkowski was unstoppable, grabbing four passes for 69 yards, including the 5-yard score.

Philly didn’t flinch, answering with a precise 75-yard march and three more third-down conversions; the Eagles were 10 for 16. The last was on Foles’ perfect pass to Clement over double coverage. The rookie’s reception was upheld by review, and the Eagles were back on top by 10.

Brady shrugged and, getting steadfast protection, connected with Chris Hogan from the 26 for another touchdown.

When all the Eagles could manage was Elliott’s 42-yarder for a 32-26 lead, it seemed inevitable the Patriots would go in front, then become the first repeat Super Bowl winner since they did it in the 2004 and ’05 games.

Foles, Ertz, and — at last — a revitalized defense said otherwise.

The weird image of Brady ambling downfield on a pass pattern came three plays after New England lost receiver Brandin Cooks to a concussion on a vicious but clean hit by Malcolm Jenkins in the second quarter. Amendola’s pass required an over-the-shoulder grab and the ball fell off Brady’s outstretched hands.

Brady got back to passing after a wild interception. Alshon Jeffery nearly made a spectacular catch near the Patriots’ goal line, only to juggle the ball into the air. Duron Harmon picked it off at the 10. Moments later, Brady was connecting with Chris Hogan for 42 yards.

James White broke several tackles with a brilliant 26-yard run and it was 15-12. That gave White seven touchdowns in his past three postseason games, including the overtime winner in last year’s Super Bowl.

But the Eagles still had 2:04 left in the half — and some more magic in their bag.

A short third-down throw to rookie Corey Clement on a circle route turned into a 55-yard explosion down to the Patriots 8. Philly got to the 1 and on fourth down, it was Foles’ turn to morph into a receiver.

He did better than Brady. On fourth down, Clement took a direct snap, pitched to tight end Trey Burton, and the former Florida QB hit an uncovered Foles. The Eagles were up 22-12 at halftime, the most points New England has allowed in the opening half of a Super Bowl under Belichick.

Each team started with 67-yard drives to field goals — New England had never scored a first-quarter point with Brady in a Super Bowl.

Each kicker later faltered, with Elliott missing the extra point, his fifth failed PAT this season, after Jeffery’s 34-yard touchdown. Then Gostkowski hit the left upright with a 26-yard field goal after holder Ryan Allen mishandled the snap. Gostkowski also missed an extra point.

When LeGarrette Blount, who won the title last season with the Patriots, scored on a 21-yard burst, Pederson went for 2, but the pass failed, making it 15-3.

The Eagles and Pederson brushed it off and stayed with their usual aggressive approach. Breathtakingly, it eventually paid off.

Eagles’ rush could be key vs. Patriots’ Brady

AP Photo
Leave a comment

MINNEAPOLIS — Neither New England nor Philadelphia is a tropical paradise, so for the Patriots and Eagles, the Minnesota winter weather has been pretty normal for them. That’s a good thing as both teams head into their Super Bowl LII meeting on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium trying to treat it like just another 60-minute game.

After the media circus they endured Monday in St. Paul, the players for both the Patriots (15-3) and the Eagles (15-3) welcomed the opportunity to get back to some semblance of normal game week preparation and to focus on the football, even if it’s in a new place.

“We’ve got to go out and practice and kind of get away from the madness,” said Philadelphia defensive end Fletcher Cox on Wednesday after the Eagles practiced at the University of Minnesota. “I just treat it as a regular game week. Things I would do at the facility, I’m doing here.”

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

One thing the Eagles did successfully at home and on the road all season was pressure the opponent’s quarterback, and when the Patriots have faltered in two Super Bowl losses to the Giants in the past decade, a relentless pass rush has contributed. But the highly touted Eagles defense, which did not allow a point after the Vikings’ opening drive of the NFC title game, is wary about putting too much of their attention on Patriots star Tom Brady.

“It’s Tom plus 10 guys on the field. We can’t just focus on one guy, if we’re going to be real about it,” Cox said. “I think we have to focus on their whole offense, because they’ve got a lot of great players. We have to go out and be ourselves. We’ve got to go out and do the little things right and not beat ourselves in order to be victorious.”

New England tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the second half of the AFC title game win over Jacksonville due to a concussion, is slated to play.

“Rob’s a tough guy. Obviously, this isn’t something you can just fight through,” said Brady.

While the Patriots offense has revolved around Brady since their first Super Bowl win in 2002, the defense has been one of constant evolution, and the unit adopted yet another new look late in the regular season when linebacker James Harrison came on board after he was jettisoned by the Steelers.

“When you’re in a system for as long as he’s been, there are a lot of things that are habits that get ingrained, which they should be. Some of those things carry over. Some of them kind of don’t,” Belichick said of Harrison, who has played 178 of his 193 NFL regular-season games for Pittsburgh. “He’s done a great job of trying to separate them and do what we’ve asked him to do.”

While the Eagles will be looking for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title, having lost the big game after the 1980 and 2004 seasons, there may be more pressure on the Patriots, who will be seeking their sixth title and their second in a row, knowing that the coaching staff will look significantly different next season. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia are both widely expected to be head coaches in Indianapolis and Detroit, respectively, next season.

“I realize and I understand and I appreciate the talent in the coaches in our building. I’m grateful for the opportunity to even be coached by them,” said Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola, sounding very much like he was saying goodbye. “Whatever their opportunities are in the future, I’ll be excited for them.”

There’s one more opportunity for them on Sunday. And it sounds plenty exciting.